Health Benefits of Tamarack

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Tamarack Quick Facts
Name: Tamarack
Scientific Name: Larix laricina
Origin Native to Canada, from eastern Yukon and Inuvik, Northwest Territories east to Newfoundland
Larch, the common name of a small genus (Larix) of medium-sized coniferous trees of the pine family (Pinaceae). They differ from other genera in being deciduous and in bearing short, green needle-like leaves on dwarf and long shoots. The spruce-like, erect cones with thin, persistent scales and long, accuminate bracts mature in one season. Most species are 40–80 ft. high except when growing near the timberline. Of the ten species now recognized, American larch (L. americana), also known as Black larch, or Tamarack, is the most common in the eastern United States and Canada extending west to the Rocky Mountains and north-west to the Yukon River in Alaska, where it is sometimes called L. alaskensis: growing in the southern parts of this area in swamps and sphagnum bogs. The gummy sap that seeps from the tree has a very good flavour when chewed.

Plant description

Tamarack trees reaches to the height of 20 meters tall with straight, slender trunk and narrow, open and pyramidal crown which occupies one third to one half the bole length. Branches are whorled, horizontal or slightly ascending. Bark of young trees is smooth, gray becoming reddish brown and scaly. Leaves are needlelike, deciduous, pale blue-green, 1-2 cm long forming in clusters on short shoots or singly along the long shoots prominent on twigs two years or more old. Seed cones are upright and 1-2 cm long. Seeds are winged and 2-3 mm long.

Facts About Tamarack

Name Tamarack
Scientific Name Larix laricina
Native Native to Canada, from eastern Yukon and Inuvik, Northwest Territories east to Newfoundland, and also south into the upper northeastern United States from Minnesota to Cranesville Swamp, West Virginia; there is also an isolated population in central Alaska.
Common/English Name Black Larch, American Larch, Hackmetack, Salisb, Alaska larch, Red larch
Bark Smooth gray
Buds Rounded, glossy and reddish brown
Medicinal part The inner bark

Leaf

Deciduous, flat needle, light green, appear in spirals on spur shoots after first year, ¾ to 1 inch long, turn yellow in the fall.

Flower

Species is monoecious; males yellowish, small and round in clusters near branch tips; females reddish-brown, numerous scales, egg-shaped.

Fruit

Small, ¾ to 1 inch, light brown, egg-shaped cone; persist throughout the winter.

Twig

Slender, light brown, numerous short, spur branches.

Bark

Rough, small scaly patches, grayish brown to reddish brown.

Uses

Because of its astringent and gently stimulating qualities the inner bark is especially useful for melancholy, often caused by the enlarged, sluggish, hardened, condition of the liver and spleen with inactivates various other functions of the metabolism. For domestic use in emergencies, or long-standing bleeding of any kind, in lungs, stomach, bowels, or too profuse menstruation. Also for diarrhoea, rheumatism, bronchitis, asthma and poisonous insect bites. J. Kloss in “Back to Eden”, recommends the weak tea as an eye wash and the warm tea dropped in the ear to relieve earache. A decoction of the bark, combined with Spearmint (Mentha viridis), Juniper (Juniperus communis), Horse radish (Cochlearia armoracia), and taken in wineglassful doses has proven valuable in dropsy.

Dose

As a tea, 1 teaspoonful of the inner bark to 1 cupful of boiling water; steep 30 min.

Externally

As a wash used to cleanse ulcerated sores of long standing, if the condition has progressed to the bone, combine with Comfrey (Symphytum officinale) fresh or dried (taken internally too). As a poultice, dress often and continue until new skin seals the areas. Also used for haemorrhoids as a salve, or sitz-bath.

Russian Experience

Listvennitza Sibirsky, Larix iberia (Tamarack), grows 150 ft. tall in Siberia and the far east. The very wide branching tree is one of the most beautiful and magnificent to adorn their countryside. Turpentine of Larix, known in Russia as venetian terpentain, is one of the by-products.

Externally

The oil in compound is used for rheumatism, neuralgia, gout; new twigs and bark made into an antibiotic and antiseptic is used as an inhalant steam for catarrh of the lungs, abscesses, gangrene of the lungs, throat, bronchitis. Also of help to kidney and bladder.

Medicinal uses

  • Tea made from bark is used as diuretic, alterative, tonic and laxative.
  • Use it for treating anemia, jaundice, colds, rheumatism and skin problems.
  • Use it as a gargle for treating sore throats and apply it as a poultice for sores, swellings and burns.
  • Apply the poultice of boiled inner bark to wounds for treating infections, burns, deep cuts and frostbite.
  • Chew the resin for indigestion.
  • Use it for treating piles and diarrhea.

Culinary uses

Inner bark can be scraped, dried and ground into a meal to be mixed with other flours.

References:

https://www.itis.gov/servlet/SingleRpt/SingleRpt?search_topic=TSN&search_value=183412#null

https://pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Larix+laricina

https://web.uri.edu/rhodeislandwoods/files/Larix-laricina.pdf

https://dc.cod.edu/horticulture-2242-larix-laricina/larix-laricina.pdf

https://plants.usda.gov/plantguide/pdf/pg_lala.pdf

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